Apex Smart Bike review: Don’t be fooled by this budget-friendly, screen-less exercise bike; its interactive features are on a par with its pricier peers…
Apex Smart Bike
BUY IT NOW:
£699 plus £29.99 per month subscription, apexrides.com (not yet available in the US)
- Competitive price
- Modern, stylish design
- Well made and easy to set up
- Membership includes an extensive range of classes and instructors
- No built-in screen
- The seat can be slightly uncomfortable
Home-gym friendly: 4/5
The Apex Smart Bike is stylish, contoured and not like your usual black studio-style spin bike. The mist (white) and navy coloured bikes look striking (there’s also a black version). I tested the limited edition Sky Blue colourway, which certainly adds to the bold aesthetics of this British brand. Apex has designed its bikes to bring some elegance and finesse to the home-spinning environment. As its slogan goes, these bikes are “made for the home – not garages.” They’re right up there with some of the best exercise machines.
At £699, the price tag is pretty impressive too. Coming in considerably less than many smart bikes on the market, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But unboxing the bike revealed a very well-made, well designed and sturdy piece of kit.
Apex Smart Bike design
The Apex Smart Bike’s solid, curved frame looks heavy. However, the bike weighs less than many of its competitors (99lb / 45kg). It also has a smaller footprint and is easy to manoeuvre around when it’s tipped forwards onto its front wheels. I found it to be relatively compact too, measuring 120 x 160 x 117cm. And it’s easy to tuck into a corner or behind a door when not in use.
Matching its sculpted curves, the bike has a racer-style saddle and narrow, multi-position aero handlebars. The latter helps make it comfortable to ride for extended periods. The seat might not be to everyone’s liking, though, so you might want to wear padded shorts for those longer sessions.
Apex Smart Bike drawbacks
The main drawback with buying an Apex Bike over the likes of the Peloton, Bowflex Velocore or Garmin Tacx Neo is that there’s no built-in display. According to Apex, “households already have too many screens”, so instead there’s a mount integrated into the handlebars where you can securely place an iPad or iPhone. (You can also broadcast to the big screen via Apple TV.) Oddly, there’s no Android compatibility as yet.
To connect you can either use Bluetooth or WI-FI and there’s a pair of USB-A outputs at the front of the bike coupled with a water bottle holder and wireless charging cradle for your phone, which is a nice touch.
Apex Smart Bike performance
My review unit came fully assembled so there was no stressing about the setup. All I had to do was adjust the seat and bars for my height using the quick-release knobs and saddle lever (there’s also a helpful video tutorial on the Apex app). The only thing that took me some time was figuring out where to plug the bike in, as the port is hidden on the back of the bike. Once powered up and connected to the app, the bike provides a smooth and straightforward riding experience. You also have the option of using either SDP bike shoes or ordinary trainers that slide into the toe straps.
Resistance is provided in the form of a 4kg rear flywheel. While this is considerably less resistance than in most premium exercise bikes, I found that it’s more than sufficient. From rapid spinning at the lowest level to being almost impossible to push with the resistance dialled to the max, there’s a wide resistance range for all abilities.
The dial that controls that resistance is nice and responsive – and the resistance level is displayed on the screen on your app. It’s very quiet too, even when spinning at full speed.
Apex Rides Membership
At £29 a month for up to six users, you’ll get full access to the growing library of classes led by Apex’s team of world-class British instructors. I found them to be hugely engaging. They do a good job of explaining what you need to do during the classes and provide the necessary motivation to keep you focused. The production feels high quality, and it can be immersive if you’re casting on an Apple TV with some noise-cancelling headphones. It doesn’t quite have the same immersive experience on a tablet or phone, but it works well enough.
The other useful thing about the classes is that you have access to all your stats. At the bottom of the screen, you can view your live stats like power output (a calculation of your resistance combined with RPM), RPM and current resistance level. Throughout each class, your instructor will recommend the best level of resistance and cadence to match each track, which gives you the feel of being in a fun spin class.
And speaking of music, there’s a vast choice of playlists on offer too. These can be filtered by genre, instructor, music taste, time and level. I loved the Lionel Richie Mix (no, really) and at the end of a long day the Pedal Party was great fun too.
At the end of each class, you’ll be given a total power output that’s converted to Apex points. These count towards your score on a members’ leaderboard, which is an effective motivator if you’re the competitive type. You can also share this data on your socials or via Strava for extra accountability or ride alongside your friends as the app features real-time metrics and a leaderboard.
Should you buy the Apex Smart Bike?
The Apex Bike is a compact, no-frills piece of kit with an attractive design that won’t look out of place in your living room. I didn’t feel I had to hide my bike when visitors came round – instead it became a bit of a talking point. That it’s complemented by some of the most engaging virtual classes I’ve experienced only adds to its already impressive value.
With no built-in display or screen it’s no Peloton Bike+, but if you don’t have a spare £2,000 to spend, the Apex Bike is a worthy investment as an alternative exercise bike for weight loss and fun cardio sessions, with plenty of great motivational content – though remember that’s an extra monthly cost.